The Six Choruses for male voices and string orchestra, H186 (Op 53), were composed between 1931 and 1932 and represent both Holst’s last major creative utterance, and his final work to be awarded an opus number. The words are by Helen Waddell, from her book Medieval Latin Lyrics
. Written just after the Choral Fantasia
, these pieces extend still further the refinement of detail and economy of expression which characterize all of Holst’s later music. His tendency in these works towards de-personalization and an adoption of a cerebral style has tended to alienate audiences who are inclined to react against their apparent emotional frigidity. However, observed as one might study, say, an intricate watch mechanism, these pieces reveal an unexpected and unique beauty all of their own.
from notes by Julian Haylock © 1989